Monasteries of the Heart

Old Monk's Journal

Journal Entry 180

Old Monk enjoys a brief conversation most mornings with poets, hermits and Zen types, and seekers of all stripes. Here are some recent ones:

Journal Entry 179

I got a new insight into the gospels that we hear during the Easter season, the ones where Jesus appears to followers in locked rooms or to those feeling abandoned and hopeless who meet on dusty roads or seashores.

The commentator Geoff Woods reminds me no matter how tightly I lock the doors of my days or how grey and uncertain the hours unfold, there are moments when Christ can suddenly appear and restore a taste of the victory over death.

Journal Entry 178

Since we’re in the season of resurrection, of rising up again from the death blows of life, let me tell you about a beautiful Easter book I read recently.

Journal Entry 177

A book I’m reading by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, gave me a good insight into the Palm Sunday procession where the crowds waved tree branches and shouted to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.”

Journal Entry 176

Now and then it’s just best to forget words and let the visual take over. I feel that way about this week’s blog. On the day of the National School Walk Out against gun violence, I received this photo from my nephew’s wife, Tara. Attached was a note explaining how my grandniece, 11-year-old Kira, stood up all by herself in math class, took off her sweatshirt to reveal an official “Enough” T-shirt with the names of the students gunned down at Parkland High School, and kept standing in the front row for 17 minutes. She was all alone. No one joined her.

Journal Entry 175

One of the best couple hours I spend each month is with my women's writing circle. It's an open circle so the number of participants vary. This month thirteen women walked in and at least 6 were first-timers. What draws them is an itch to write, of course, but being in the company of other women can't be underestimated. "I like it that this is just for women," said one of the newcomers, "although we're each different, we have so much in common that we share."

Journal Entry 174

Sometimes Old Monk reads something so simple and clear on God talk that she wonders why or if any other words ever have to be penned. That happened today (March 3) on the death anniversary of William Stringfellow, the Episcopal theologian, lawyaer, and social critic who harbored his friend Dan Berrigan on Block Island when he was underground and being hunted by the FBI for a civil disobedience action during the Vietnam War.

Journal Entry 173

What activity fills you with joy? I was using that question as a writing prompt recently and my answer surprised me. I could write "golfing" and give a good argument. I would never say writing, that fills me with anxiety. I might consider "reading" although as I age, it doesn't have the same zest as when I was younger--it's hard to find something that I relish anymore. "Eating" would stand a good chance. But what I came up with is "my commonplace book." Really?

Journal Entry 172

Today Vincent Van Gogh tells me, "If one truly loves nature, one finds beauty everywhere." And I'm reminded of a conversation at last night's book club gathering. We're reading Devotions, the Selected Poems of Mary Oliver. The poet herself chose the poems from writings that span more than fifty years. The book is over 400 pages long and we read about 80 pages each month. When we gather each woman reads aloud her favorite and then we discuss it.

Last evening someone chose "Invitation" in which Oliver writes about goldfinches who have gathered to sing

Journal Entry 171

I talked with a friend yesterday who said that political events in this country and in the world were chiseling hope from her soul. She was desperate for hope and sought for signs of it with a fierce tenacity. She told me that she had attended a poetry workshop the weekend before because the poet leading it promised a sprig of hope.

It got Old Monk thinking about how she keeps resuscitating hope so it doesn't gasp a final breath. Here are a couple ways.


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